Four years ago, in the continent of Telesis, the great war which split the North and South finally came to an end, with the people ready to embrace a new generation of prosperity and hope.
Violet Evergarden, a young woman who was once known as “The Weapon” has left her days of being on the battlefield behind, starting a new life working at the postal service. While working there, she becomes enthralled with the work of the “Auto Memory Dolls”, who possess the power to read people’s thoughts and turn them into words.
The story follows Violet as she works as an “Auto Memory Doll” herself, and comes face to face with the thoughts and emotions of various individuals, all the while discovering the meaning behind those emotions for herself.
If there’s any show this season that could be considered a hot topic, it’s Violet Evergarden. Be it due to how well received its first episode is, or the fact that Netflix have once again held it hostage for absolutely no reason other than the plain, simple fact that they continue to have a poor understanding of what the Anime fandom wants, you’d hard pressed to argue otherwise.
Violet Evergarden is probably the most popular and discussed series to come out this season, and while I’d certainly love to get on board this hype train and fall in love with the show along with everyone else, it’s already proving to be a real struggle for me.
I think if I were to attempt to sum up exactly what my problem is in a single phrase, it’d likely be something along the lines of this:
I don’t “get” this show.
By that, I mean, I don’t really understand what the big deal is.
Am I missing something? Did I not pay attention to what was going on enough? Because this first episode was actually a struggle to get through, and for me, in any Anime, no matter how bad it is, the first episode rarely ever manages to feel like a chore. I was falling asleep.
I mean, yeah. The animation is pretty great. Like all Kyoto Animation productions, the art style is nice, the character designs are lovely, the background art is visually stunning, creating a very well composed setting, and the animation is insanely good, with even subtle movements rivalling that of cinema quality Anime movies.
No matter how you slice it, even if you’re someone like me who’s not the biggest fan of aesthetic itself, you can’t really argue that Violet Evergarden looks absolutely spectacular on almost every conceivable front.
But what else is there?
It’s early days, being only the first episode, but I honestly couldn’t care about the narrative or its characters in the slightest so far. I’m not seeing anything particularly groundbreaking in terms of where this story is going, and while I have frequently said in the past that a story does not need to be groundbreaking or unique to be good, it’s all about the execution.
And in terms of execution, Violet Evergarden falls flat on its face.
This was a premiere episode where almost nothing of significance happened, outside of introducing some characters, showing a few flashbacks and kind of, sort of, having a small, but significant, thing happen at the end. I can’t tell you anything about the world of this story other than “some kind of war happened a while back”, and that’s a little sad.
It’s been a whole 24 minutes, and I can’t tell you the name of anyone in this show aside from Violet because her name is in the title. I don’t care because, so far, the show has given me very little reason to care.
It’s very early days, and I can more or less tell exactly where this story is going to go. It’ll likely be an episodic series, where Violet journey’s through the emotions and thoughts of various people, one or two per episode, and in the end she’ll come to understand what it means to love someone, or she’ll get a better grasp of human emotions in general. There’ll probably be some manipulative feels thrown in there and plenty more traumatic war flashbacks. There’ll be some great animation. I’m sure everyone will fall in love with it.
But if Violet Evergarden wants to impress me, it’s going to have to step up its game tenfold. I’ve seen many say that this series is Kyoto Animation’s attempt at stepping out of their comfort zone and trying to do something new, but in my eyes, this is just more of the same. There’s no school this time, and there’s no moe, but the core ideas behind it are no different than the usual effort I’ve come to expect from this studio.
Kyoto Animation already came out of their comfort zone when they did A Silent Voice, a movie which shattered every single piece of what many consider to be the very foundation of what “makes” a Kyoto Animation show, a Kyoto Animation show.
Violet Evergarden is far from Kyoto Animation’s best work.
Is it their best animated? Sure. But their best?
Not even close.
It’s not even the best show of the season, in my opinion.
Let’s hope the show gets better. I’m in the minority of people that can actually watch this show legally, thanks to where I live, so I’ll be keeping up to date with this one as it airs, week by week. I look forward to seeing how this develops, regardless of my fairly negative critique.
Feel free to butcher me in the comments.